Plea to modify Italian marine’s bail condition: SC for govt’s reply

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New Delhi | Updated: September 20, 2016 5:07:21 PM

Government told Supreme Court it has no objection on Italy's fresh plea seeking modification of bail conditions of marine Massimiliano Latorre to enable him remain in that country ...

Salvatore Girone (L) and Latorre Massimiliano. (Reuters)Salvatore Girone (L) and Latorre Massimiliano. (Reuters)

Government today told Supreme Court it has no objection on Italy’s fresh plea seeking modification of bail conditions of marine Massimiliano Latorre to enable him remain in that country till an international tribunal decided which country had the right to try the case of killing of two Indian fishermen.

When the matter came up for hearing, a bench headed by Justice A R Dave wanted to know whether the government has filed its response to the plea.

To this, Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha said he had instruction that there is no objection and the same conditions could be imposed as was done in the case of another marine, Salvatore Girone, who too is in Italy.

However, the bench, which also comprised Justices Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy, said it would like to have a proper response of the Centre and posted the matter for further hearing on September 28.

According to the earlier order of the court, the relief granted to Latorre to stay in Italy expires on September 30.

During the brief hearing, senior advocate Rana Mukherjee, appearing for the families of the two Kerala fishermen who were killed, objected to the hearing of the plea saying he has not been served with the copy of the application.

Kerala government also submitted that there should not be any blanket order of relief as there was no scope that the proceedings before the international tribunal would be completed before 2019.

The ASG submitted that arbitral proceedings would take a year or two to complete and even the international tribunal has made it clear that the two marines are subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India which can take a call on granting bail.

The counsel appearing for Italy on behalf of the marines drew the attention of the bench to the submission of ASG who had the instruction that the Centre has no objection for modifying Latorre’s bail condition.

The Centre was of the view that the same bail conditions be imposed on Latorre as was done by the apex court in relation to Girone.

The apex court on September 8 had decided to hear the plea filed by Italy on behalf of marine Massimiliano Latorre who had sought urgent hearing on the ground that an earlier court order was valid till Spetember 30 this year.

While relaxing Girone’s bail conditions on May 26, the apex court had allowed him to go to his country till the jurisdictional issue between India and Italy was decided in the international arbitral tribunal.

The apex court had imposed four conditions on Girone including that he has to report to a police station in Italy on first Wednesday of every month and the Italian authorities have to inform the Indian Embassy in Rome about it.

The second condition was that he will not tamper with any evidence, nor influence any witness in the case.

The third condition was that Girone will give an undertaking that he will remain under the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and lastly, if found violating any of the conditions, his bail will be cancelled, the court had said.

The marines, who were on board the Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker ‘Enrica Lexie’, are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of fishing boat ‘St Antony’ in which the two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.

On April 26, the apex court had extended till September 30 the stay of Latorre in Italy after it was informed that the international arbitral proceedings would be completed by December 2018 before International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany.

The court had also asked the Italian Embassy here to give an undertaking to abide by the conditions under which Latorre was allowed to leave India.

The court had earlier stayed all criminal proceedings, including the trial of the two marines.

While allowing the joint request of India and Italy, the apex court had said the proceedings would remain stalled till the jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct trial was decided through international arbitration.

The apex court had on August 26, 2015 suspended all court proceedings here in pursuance of an interim order of the ITLOS asking India to maintain “status quo” in the case.

The Indian government had then said a five-member tribunal (ITLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal) would be set up, probably to decide the issue of jurisdiction.

The court, in August last year, had extended the stay of Latorre, who had undergone a heart surgery in Italy, by six months while asking him to file an undertaking that he would abide by its conditions.

Latorre, who had also suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was allowed by the apex court on September 12, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.

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